It’s Up to Me?

It is up to you to know the production number that assures your financial future.

Published online: Aug 07, 2018 Articles Buzz Shahan, Chief Operating Officer, United Potato Growers of America
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This column appears in the August 2018 issue of Potato Grower.

The often-repeated adage, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” has relevance for those in today’s fresh produce business. An event “to be” is clearly a future event. An outcome that is “up to me” suggests individual proactivism. Few empowerments appeal more than controlling a future event, especially when that future event has income potential such as selling one’s potato crop at a profit.

Great comfort comes from knowing that you can set your mind on a worthy goal and accomplish it, like setting your mind on profiting from growing potatoes and making it happen. This means that your success is up to you more than to happenstance. This does not mean that you can create a healthy market alone. It does mean that you can make certain that your personal production decisions do not contribute to a glutted market. Some growers look at the opportunity to balance supply and figure it is up to someone else to make it happen. They wait until it’s too late to influence the outcome, and then complain of being victimized by other growers. Rather than feeling victimized, they should feel regret for not seizing the moment and doing their part to balance production with market demand.

So, the next time the opportunity rolls around to assure a fair return for your potato crop, remember this: In all fresh-produce sectors where success is customary, those sectors obey the “number” above all other considerations. What number is that? It’s the supply/demand balance number for one’s fresh produce product in one’s production region. In achieving that number as a potato grower:

  1. You chart your own destiny. You get to engineer the financial outcome of your potato production business by matching supply to demand.
  2. You reap what you sow—quite literally. Fresh produce supply determines fresh produce price. Each potato-producing region has a price-positive production number. If you don’t know and obey that number, can you honestly say that you’re doing your part to assure positive price? Can you say, without knowing and obeying that number, that you are the best steward of your family’s fortune?
  3. You will face obstacles. There will always be people who may not like what you are doing. When you encounter one of those types, ask them what their contribution is to your financial success. Ask if they are wearing the same hat you are; many out there profit from potato production whether you do or not. In fact, glutted markets, while disastrous for you, can be a windfall for certain individuals.
  4. You will find freedom in knowing where you are going—the knowledge that you are driving the bus. Growers who always wait for someone else to rescue the market never experience the joy of accomplishment, not to mention the accompanying financial reward. Those who take responsibility for the potato market’s health stand apart, deserving of respect and admiration.

Finally: Where will you be financially in five years? Ten years? Do you know? Have you set a goal for it? Are you willing to take responsibility and recognize that “it is up to you?” It is up to you to know the production number that assures your financial future, and to obey it. Your family’s future is worthy of no less.